No, it won’t all go the way it should, but I know the heart of life is good. – John Mayer
Sometimes, I’d rather just move.
It’s so messy, this business of relating to actual people. Instead of hanging in there, sticking it out, making apologies for my shortcomings (which are so very many), and putting up with your shortcomings, meh… I’d rather explore greener pastures. Start over. Find my own personal version of paradise.
In this, our 12th month of nomadic living, I can certainly say that meeting new people is usually fun and exciting and, yes, sometimes you hit of off with someone and feel a sudden connection that makes you wonder, is THIS my magical happy spot? But, nobody is perfect. Eventually, the shine wears off, your dull spots start to show, and that age-old urge to run boils right up again.
Starting over is such a romantic notion.
Surely somewhere there are people who behave, think and act just like me in a climate that’s always 70 degrees and sunny, where the money never runs out. It’s a nice thought, but anywhere you choose to live, there will most likely be other humans with whom you have to relate – and that means things will inevitably, eventually feel uncomfortable and hard.
But no pain, no gain, right?
Why is that something we’re all too eager to embrace when it comes to things like physical fitness and the pursuit of a big paycheck? Yet, when it comes to relationships, hard and uncomfortable isn’t something we’re willing to sit with for very long. I’m not saying we should deal with abusive or emotionally damaging behavior – this is something different.
I’m talking about the patience, forbearance and grace that only develop when we purposefully engage in long-term friendship with real, flawed humans (and when we let our own real, flawed parts be known). I know. The idea of it sounds horrific. And I can’t tell you the number of folks I’ve run into on the road who expressed the exact opposite notion: that we shouldn’t have to put up with anything that makes us unhappy, whether that’s our geographical location, or the people with whom we interact on a daily basis.
For a long time, I agreed wholeheartedly with this idea.
It’s part of the reason I was so eager to pick up and leave everything I knew, abandon my life in Missoula, Montana in the interest of… myself. There are some who admire what we’ve done, the difficulty of leaving behind the known for the unknown (especially with two kids and a giant dog in tow). But the thing is, leaving everything was the easy choice for me.
When given the choice between putting down roots and really digging into relationships, or hightailing it to parts unknown, I’ll choose Option B every time.
The truth is, I picked the easier road. I thought that doing what felt “right” (a.k.a. “easy”) was always the answer. We should follow our bliss, do what makes us happy. Right? Man, I don’t know. If you think about it, the hardest choices are often our greatest opportunities for growth.
Look at the choice to get married, have kids, develop a career. These things are fucking haaaaard, man. But they also cultivate wisdom and depth that is unbelievably rewarding; in the end, it’s the hard choices that make us happier, because of everything we overcame and the new skills we had to build in order to achieve them.
The truth? I don’t want to go back to Missoula.
And not just because of the frigid, hellish cold.
It will mean that I have to get over my hangups, my discomfort, my self-consciousness, and actually commit to a community. I will have to spend enough time with people for them to get to know me… and that feels like a huge risk. What if they don’t like me? What if they take advantage of me? What if they let me down?
I wish I could get back all of the time I spent thinking about ME this year.
After a full 12 months of “doing me,” all I can say is, it was fucking lonely. Granted, I LOVED spending uninterrupted time with my husband, kids, and parents… but a year of going with the flow and pursuing the path of least emotional resistance hasn’t exactly left me feeling fulfilled. Because we aren’t meant to give our singular focus to what makes us happy. We aren’t meant to ask over and over “what’s in it for ME?”
We’re meant to ask how we can help others, and in the course of doing so, we find our own fulfillment and happiness.
So, here’s to being uncomfortable. Here’s to doing the extremely unnatural-feeling thing and digging in deeper when all we wanna do is cut and ruuuuuun, Forrest, run!
Here’s to frustration and mess and disappointment, fear and risk and failure… and the hope and faith and joy and love that await us on the other side. Yes, sometimes people will let us down. Sometimes they will judge, offend and betray us, and make us wonder why the fuck we decided to inconvenience ourselves in the first place!!!
But here’s to all the times we play the odds, take the risk, do the hardest and most uncomfortable thing and find meaningful connection.
Because living without it isn’t really living at all.
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